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Guide to Folding Power Wheelchairs

Folding Power Wheelchairs

Folding power wheelchairs, otherwise known as electric wheelchairs, are exceptionally versatile in that not only are they transportable, but they can also serve as full-time mobility, with adaptable seating that accepts pressure-management cushions, with full-coverage armrests, and highly supportive backrest options. Furthermore, with larger rear drive wheels, and speeds up to 6 mph, folding electric wheelchairs perform well outdoors on paved and packed natural surfaces.

Folding power wheelchairs feature sling seating, meaning that the upholstery is stretched across the frame of the electric wheelchair - the same upholstery that's used on traditional manual wheelchairs. A benefit of sling seating is that it accepts pressure-management cushions, so it's adaptable for varying needs of comfort. Also, sling seating allows for the back upholstery to be replaced with a quick-release contoured back, if wished. For legrests, independent swing-away legrests are offered, swinging out of the way for transfers (some models may offer elevating legrests, as well).

Folding power wheelchairs have the ability to stow in an automobile trunk in a similar means to a conventional folding wheelchair, but require some additional effort. The batteries must be disconnected from the electric wheelchair, and then lifted into the vehicle, weighing approximately 35 lbs. each. Next, the folded frame, weighing approximately 45 lbs. must be lifted into the vehicle. Folding power wheelchairs are transportable, but do require some strength and coordination.

A folding power wheelchair may be best for you if you need:

  • Full- or part-time wheelchair use
  • Adaptable seating that accepts cushions
  • Indoor and outdoor performance, including surfaces like grass
  • Transportability (but requires notable effort to disassemble and fold)
  • Speeds up to 6 mph
  • Battery range of 11- to 14 miles

A folding power wheelchair may not be best for you if you need:

  • An ultra-compact model
  • Extreme maneuverability (they don't turn as tightly as a travel or center-wheel drive electric wheelchair)
  • Utmost transportability (they don't disassemble as compactly as travel models)
  • Use on very rough terrain

By Mark E. Smith


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